Globalization and National Identity: Shintobul-i, A Case of Cultural Representation of Economic Nationalism

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Cho, Hong Sik
Issue Date
Institute of International Affairs, Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University
Journal of International and Area Studies, Vol.15 No.1, pp. 17-35
This article aims at analyzing and explaining the process of invention, as well as its diffusion, and

finally examining the controversy around the meaning of the adage Shintobul-i. This Korean set phrase

literally means “Soil and body are one and the same.” Looking at the form of the adage, one can easily

be misled and think that it comes from traditional Korea or ancient China. Actually, it is an invention

of the Korean Agricultural Cooperative in 1989 in order to mobilize the public against trade

liberalization. The case study of Shintobul-i indicates that the cultural dimension of nationalism can be

deeply intertwined with economic interests so that they mutually reinforces in a synergetic process. 1)

The principal actors in the invention process are educated urban elites, even though farmers

contributed to the popularization of the idiom. 2) The emergence of Shintobul-i as a symbol of national

identity corresponds to the historical context of economic development and democratization. 3) The

diffusion and popularization of Shintobul-i cover a quite long period of the 1990’s and the first decade

of the 21st century. 4) This case indicates that the symbols of national identity must possess the popular

appealing power as well as some specific qualities, such as indispensability or prestige, which make them worth of a nation.
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Dept. of International Studies (국제학과)Journal of International and Area StudiesJournal of International and Area Studies vol.15 (2008)
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